SNOWSTORM IN ORKNEY
THE WORST FOR THIRTEEN YEARS
ROADS BLOCKED AND MAILS DELAYED
From Wednesday until Saturday the Orkneys were again in the grip of wintry weather. This also applied to most parts of Scotland and England. In Orkney, however, the snowstorm was the most severe experienced since January 1917. It came on suddenly and last for two days.
Although there was some snow on Wednesday and a few showers at night, it was not until the following day that the real blizzard began. So heavy was the fall that in a short time there was a considerable depth of snow, and in some parts of the country, carried by the wind, it created wreaths on the roads, some of which were six feet deep. The district which fared worst in this respect was Orphir, but practically all the roads to Kirkwall were blocked. Motor traffic was completely held up, and the Post Office authorities were put to considerable inconvenience, as some of the mail vans were unable to reach Kirkwall.
On Thursday, owing to have sea running, combined with blinding snow, the mail steamer St Ola was prevented from making her usual crossing to Scrabster. A sudden call came from Stronsay that day. A patient required immediate treatment in the Balfour Hospital, and in spite of the storm and blizzard, the steamer Orcadia set out from Kirkwall and made a fairly good passage to Stronsay. On account of the state of the roads, getting the patient to the pier was also a work of difficulty, but a large number of farmers, farm hands and others turned out and cut the snow drifts to allow the passage of the ambulance. The Orcadia, with the patient on board, reached Kirkwall in the evening.
On Monday the Holm mail was conveyed to Scapa by motor boat, and on the same day a motor boat from Orphir came to the pier for merchandise. A horse drawn sledge from Orphir arrived at Kirkwall on Friday after a journey of six hours. Deerness was also cut off, but Laughton’s motor bus got through on Saturday.
A gentle thaw set in on Saturday and Sunday, when the snow began to disappear under the heat of the sun. In Kirkwall a move was made on Saturday to clear the streets of snow, the wet and slushy conditions of which made walking difficult for pedestrians.
SANDWICK – MONDAY EVENING SNOWSTORM. – The motor traffic from Dounby had either to proceed to Stromness via Twatt, Birsay or Harray. At Voy they had in many cases to dig themselves out. The mail van managed to get to the Post Office every day except Friday, when no mails arrived. The clearing of the roads was commenced on Friday
FLOTTA – A snowstorm of unusual severity passed over Flotta on Thursday. The storm broke from the north east early in the morning and continued with unabated fury well into the afternoon. The blinding drift made it anything but pleasant for those who had to attend to their necessitous outdoor duties. By midday all roads were blocked, and huge wreaths of snow had accumulated everywhere. Fortunately a thaw has now set in and the snow is rapidly disappearing.
BIRSAY – The past fortnight has been the worst of the whole winter and if the snow had come during the short days there would have been a very great depth of snow, but the sun is strong and powerful now and melts a lot of snow during the day.
HOY -On Thursday all traffic came to a standstill, and the s.s.Hoy Head did not make her usual rounds of the islands. Several trawlers came into the bay for shelter. On Friday several men were employed cutting the snowdrifts to enable the grocery vans to make their rounds. Farmers are having an anxious time with their sheep, several lambs having made their appearance during the bad weather.
ORPHIR – Tuesday. In the evening Mr John C. Hay, merchant, who had the assistance of several willing helpers, forced a light Ford lorry through the deep wreaths.
From the Archive: Orkney Herald and Advertiser, 26th March 1930